The Reverse-Flash Returns
The Flash does not lack for momentum in this week’s episode. Following up directly from last week’s cliffhanger, the episode deals with the return of Eobard Thawne a.k.a. Reverse-Flash played again by Matt Lestscher from a point before his death. While that is a big moment in theory, the execution is played rather haphazardly in context of the larger seasonal story. While Thawne is dealt with midway through the episode, the way the cast deals with him makes the characters become idiots in order to advance the plot. The reasoning behind Thawne still being able to exist is clever if a little flimsy, but it works in the show’s sci-fi universe. The biggest flaw behind Thawne returning is that it smacks of bookkeeping more than anything else, allowing the writers to show how Thawne came by the information he needed to pose as Harrison Wells, and very little in showing just what makes the relationship between Barry and Thawne tick on both ends. While it’s nice to finally get a bit more definition on just why Thawne hated the Flash it comes off very late when his story ended last season, and moreover it shows just how thin of a villain his replacement: Zoom has been. As well as a bigger threat without any of the nuance that the Reverse Flash was allowed to have in his ties with Barry. While it’s nice to see Grant Gustin and Lestcher share a room again with a different set of mechanics in play, it doesn’t really save how thin the driving story of this episode is.
That said, where the story succeeds is in giving more dimension to the relationship between the Wests. While Wally’s character development still remains shambling, he is at least given moods beyond mildly resentful in his interactions with Iris. This season has definitely been a far better one for Iris among the others. Moving Iris away from Barry gave the character a lot more room to grow beyond being the rote love interest (which Patty admirably filled for this season anyway), and it also gives Candice Patton more to do in her bonding with Wally, as well as her parents. While Joe got the lion’s share of development last episode in his reactions to having a new son, Iris gets a lot more shading in her grief over the life she could have lived had her mother and Wally been around, as well as actually doing something with Eddie’s death beyond carrying on as if it never happened, and Patton milks that grief for all it’s worth and gives a lot more to connect to than the lead story this week.
The other secondary story this week sadly has very little of that emotion to it. Harry and Cisco try to explore new ways to make Cisco’s power useful beyond the moments when the plot demands it. While that is an interesting story idea in and of itself instead of ignoring it like the show typically does, it still falls into the trap of having his powers be a plot advancement rather than anything meaningful. The other problem is that there’s largely very little to say about it than what’s been said before, while the visual of Cisco wearing the Vibe goggles is very cool, there also isn’t really anything happening with him or Harry as characters. Which is a shame since Tom Cavanagh was one of the best parts of Season 1. That said, it is still interesting to get Harry and Cisco a moment with Thawne, even if the relationship is completely different between each character.
While there are some flashes of brilliance in today’s episode, like the idea that there won’t always be a 1-1 similarity in people’s counterparts between Earth-1 and Earth-2 not being consistently identifiable (such as this episode’s surprise introduction of an Earth-1 counterpart to a normally Earth-2 character), or how the Reverse-Flash can still exist despite being erased, that doesn’t really save what’s mostly an exposition episode rather than anything particularly noteworthy for the characters. While the show has largely fixed its problems, it still has issues dealing with it’s female characters again in making Caitlin’s storyline revolve around whatever man she has a romantic interest in, or once again forcing Barry against all sanity to continue hiding the fact he’s the Flash from whoever he’s in love with at the moment despite the fact everyone around him knows. Patty while a fairly interesting character suffers from the same problem Iris had last season: her character exists purely to service Barry’s feelings, and serves as an engine for unnecessary drama even when it makes the lead look insane. Those poor choices don’t collapse the show, but they do a lot to stunt its potential, hopefully these are all merely temporary problems.
3 Tachyon Particles out of 5
- Am I the only one that got chills hearing “Hunter Zolomon”? I mean I’m not the only one hoping the show gets a little more Wally West-y in the future, am I?
- Look, not that I’m going to complain about the show adhering to it’s own continuity, but I liked Cavanagh more as the Reverse-Flash, and frankly I would’ve been ok if he’d stayed dead…
- Next week is the Fast Lane, see you all then. I promise not to be so grumpy… maybe.
Review by Slew